Updated: Sep 5
10 Ways Money Affects Marriage
Updated post: 9/5/23; Original post: 5/22/23
Table of Contents
Money is often said to be one of the most common sources of conflict and stress in marriage. But how exactly does money affect marriage, and what can couples do to manage their finances in a healthy and productive way?
Here are some insights based on academic research on how money influences marital quality, stability, and satisfaction.
Financial Security in Marriage
Financial security plays a huge role in marriage happiness and stability. When couples don't constantly worry about money, they're happier. Couples who struggle with debt and household finances are less happy. In contrast, couples who feel secure about their finances tend to argue less and feel more satisfied in their marriage.
As mentioned in a past post, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a free interactive tool to assess financial well-being (financial health). The tool can help you understand the significance of your financial circumstances and the impact financial security could play on your marriage.
Here are three posts that will help you and your spouse become financially secure:
Blog Post: 5 Tips for How to Save Money: For Couples
Budgeting Decisions in Marriage
A couple's financial habits and budgeting decisions can make a big difference in how happy and stable their marriage is. If spouses disagree on how to spend their money, they probably feel less satisfied with their relationship.
Conversely, couples who talk about money and make decisions together about their budget tend to be happier.
Good communication and joint decision-making about money can make a marriage happier and more satisfying. Here are resources that will help you and your spouse become financially secure:
Money Marriage U Budget: An interactive budgeting course designed to help couples budget together. The course includes conversation prompt cards and a budgeting sheet for couples. Receive the course as a gift by subscribing to our bimonthly newsletter.
eBook: Answers to the 7 most asked questions about budgeting as a couple. Receive the eBook as a gift by subscribing to our bimonthly newsletter.
Blog post: Budgeting 101 for Couples
Lifestyle Choices in Marriage
Marriage has been found to be influenced by lifestyle choices, which are often linked to a couple's financial situation. If you can afford to own a nice house, travel often, or enjoy fancy dinners, a couple is usually happier.
On the other hand, when a couple's financial reality doesn't match their lifestyle aspirations, they can experience stress and dissatisfaction in their marriage.
So yes, research has confirmed a marriage “no duh”, couples who can comfortably afford the life they want are more likely to be satisfied in their marriage. Here are ideas to help you and your spouse live a healthy and happy lifestyle:
Blog post: 5 Fun Dates for Under $20
Blog post: 8 Frugal Ways to Have Fun with Friends
Financial Infidelity in Marriage
Financial infidelity, or being dishonest with your spouse about money matters, can have a big impact on a marriage. According to research, when one person in a marriage keeps financial secrets, like hidden debts or secret bank accounts, it can seriously harm trust in the relationship.
Moreover, couples dealing with financial infidelity are often less satisfied in their marriage and more likely to consider divorce. Just like any form of infidelity, dishonesty about money can lead to a lot of problems in a marriage.
In a 2018 survey, NEFE found that two in five Americans (41%) admitted to committing financial deceptions in their relationship. Moreover, 75% of those surveyed said financial deceit affected their relationships.
It's noteworthy that of those who experienced financial deception, 10% ended up divorcing or separating as a direct result.
Learn the impact money has on the health of your marriage. Try this quick 10 question quiz.
It's clear that being open and honest about finances is an important part of keeping a marriage healthy and strong. Below are three resources you can use to better understand how to better understand.
Blog post: What is a Money Date?
Podcast: Talking Financial Intimacy - An interview with Financial Therapy Association President Ed Coambs
Podcast: Opening Up about Financial Infidelity - An interview with NEFE CEO Dr. Billy Hensley
Risk Tolerance in Marriage
When it comes to money matters, different levels of risk tolerance can really impact a marriage. If one spouse is more willing to take financial risks, like investing in stocks, while the other prefers safer options, like savings accounts, it can cause tension. This is because each spouse may not understand or agree with the other's financial decisions, which can lead to disagreements and conflict.
In fact, couples who have similar risk tolerance levels are often more satisfied in their marriage because they're more likely to agree on financial decisions.
So, when it comes to money matters in a marriage, it's clear that being on the same page about risk can help keep the peace. Here is a resource that can help:
Related reading: How to Save and Invest Money Together
Career Choices in Marriage
Career choices can have a big influence on marriages. According to research, the jobs spouses choose can affect how much time they have to spend together and how they divide responsibilities at home.
For example, if one partner works longer hours or travels frequently for work, it can put strain on the relationship. And the days of families following the careers of only men are over.
45% of households have women earning around the same or more than their partners, and more women than men are earning associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees.
As I shared in a monthly Op-Ed for Marketwatch, research has found that the more a man depends financially on his wife, the less he does, even if he is unemployed. The reason for this is complicated, and certainly not as simple as blaming husbands. The modern husbands community exists to help husbands through the complexities that accompany different societal norms than what our parents experienced.
When both partners are satisfied with their work-life balance, they're typically happier in their marriage. This makes it clear that the career paths spouses choose can really shape the quality of their marital relationship. Here are some resources that can help:
Blog post: What is a Modern Husband (and how to be a great one)
Blog post: Household Chores for Married Couples
Stay in touch with Modern Husbands:
Newsletter: Subscribe to our bimonthly newsletter for ideas to manage money and the home as a couple.
Financial Independence in Marriage
Financial independence can make a big difference in a marriage. When a spouse can stand on their own two feet financially, they often feel more confident and have a higher sense of self-worth.
On the other hand, if one partner relies heavily on the other for money, it can create an imbalance of power in the relationship, which might lead to conflict. Couples where both partners have their own source of income are typically more satisfied in their marriage.
Financial independence can contribute to a healthier, happier marriage. Here are a couple of ideas to help you work with your partner:
Blog post: How Should Money be Split in a Marriage?
Childrearing Decisions in Marriage
Decisions about raising children can have a significant impact on marriages. When spouses disagree on parenting styles or choices, like discipline methods or educational priorities, it can lead to conflict and dissatisfaction in the relationship.
Furthermore, how a couple divides childcare responsibilities can also affect marital happiness. When one partner feels they're doing more than their fair share of child-rearing duties, it can lead to resentment and strain the relationship.
On the other hand, when parents are on the same page about child-rearing and share the work equally, they're generally happier in their marriage.
So, it's clear that mutual understanding and fair division of child-rearing duties are important for maintaining a happy and strong marriage. Here are a couple of resources for you to reference to dive deeper into the topic:
Blog post: The Cost of Raising Children
Blog post: How to Help Your Kids Be Happy
Retirement Planning in Marriage
Retirement planning can greatly influence marital satisfaction and stability, according to academic research. Couples who have concrete plans for their retirement years tend to have fewer disagreements and more peace in their relationship.
On the flip side, couples who didn't see eye to eye on retirement plans often faced stress and arguments, impacting their overall relationship satisfaction negatively. When couples have a shared vision of retirement, they generally experience a smoother transition into this phase, contributing to increased marital satisfaction.
So, here's a tip for all the couples out there: Start talking about your retirement dreams early. Not only will it help you prepare financially for your golden years, but it may just bring you closer together, too.
Financial Stress in Marriage
Financial stress can put a lot of pressure on a marriage. When couples are stressed about money, whether it's due to debt, job loss, or just living paycheck to paycheck, they're more likely to argue and feel dissatisfied in their marriage. This kind of stress can make it hard for couples to communicate effectively and solve problems together, which can make things even worse.
“Interestingly, it's not always about how much money a couple has, but rather how they manage it, with couples who effectively handle their financial stress being generally happier in their marriages.”
So, it's clear that while financial stress can be tough on a marriage, good financial management and communication can help couples weather the storm. Here are a few ideas that will help:
Blog post: Why Budget Do NOT Work
Couples who learn more, save more, and spend more on what is important to them.
For engaged and recently married couples who want to manage money and the home as a team.
Self paced online courses for couples designed by national financial therapy and financial planning experts
Winning ideas from experts to manage money and the home as a team. 2023 Plutus Award Finalist: Best Couples or Family Content
A course for students ages 13-22 to learn research-backed homework hacks and independent learning strategies.
Modern Husbands Bimonthly Newsletter (married couples)
Winning ideas to manage money and the home as a team delivered to your inbox every two weeks. You'll even receive a few free gifts!
Modern Husbands Monthly Newsletter (engaged and newlyweds)
Everything you need to know about transitioning to marriage. The first gift you will receive is a guide to tackle the seven most asked questions about budgeting as a couple.
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